Flynn’s FBI Interview Was Snare for Lies, and Trump Fumes
(Bloomberg) -- The FBI agents who interviewed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during the early days of the Russia investigation knew they might catch him lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and mused about getting him fired, according to newly unsealed documents in his criminal case.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington on Wednesday made public several pages of Federal Bureau of Investigation emails and handwritten notes about the January 2017 interview with Flynn, who argues the evidence supports his request to have the criminal case tossed out.
President Donald Trump, who has previously claimed that Flynn was set up and said he was considering a full pardon, decried Flynn’s treatment on Twitter Thursday morning.
“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!” Trump tweeted.
Trump also retweeted his son, Donald Trump Jr., who said in a posting: “Not only should general Flynn’s charges be dropped immediately but the treasonous actors who set him up should be in jail!!!”
The FBI declined to comment on Thursday. The Justice Department has previously defended the bureau’s handling of the case and rejected Flynn’s claim of “egregious government misconduct.”
The unsealed email shows FBI agents discussing when they should alert Flynn during the interview that it’s a crime to lie to federal agents, something that the former national security adviser claims they never did.
“They knew it was required in every case and the small group decided not to even mention it to Flynn,” his lawyer Sidney Powell said in an email. “They purposely decided to keep him unguarded and relaxed in case their plan to tank him failed.”
The handwritten notes unsealed Wednesday spell out that the agents’ goal was to “determine if Mike Flynn is going to tell the truth,” while indicating that the FBI had evidence to put Flynn on-the-spot to prove he was lying, according to the filing. But a note also posed a question about another possible outcome from the interview: “get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
It’s also suggested in the note that the agents were concerned about angering the Trump administration at a time when the president was lashing out at the intelligence community for indicating that Russia had meddled in the election to help him win.
“If we’re seen as playing games, WH will be furious,” the note says.
The exact context of the notes isn’t clear, and some parts remain redacted, including the nature of the evidence that the agents indicated they could present to the three-time Bronze Star recipient during the interview.
“The government’s misconduct in this case is beyond shocking and reprehensible,” Powell said in an April 24 filing about the notes that were subsequently unsealed. “These documents show in their own handwriting and emails that they intended either to create an offense they could prosecute or at least get him fired.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 but he reversed course in January before he could be sentenced. Prosecutors slammed the move, pointing out that Flynn had admitted to the crime while he was under oath and agreed to cooperate in a bid for a lighter sentence.
The judge at one point in the case balked at Flynn’s suggestion that he’d earned any leniency, noting that Flynn could have been charged with additional crimes related to his work as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government while he was working as a top security adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign and transition.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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